Having tangible opportunities to grow in a role and feeling encouraged to work on development are essential engagement indicators. When your team members feel challenged and learn new skills, it satisfies a human need, giving them a sense of improvement and expanding into new areas.

Conversely, without growth opportunities, complacency takes over, disengagement creeps in, and you see a lack of motivation.

As a manager, you have the ability to help your team members to fulfill their potential. In the modern workforce, career development looks a little different from the traditional linear career ladder. This can make things more confusing for your team members as no clear path is defined for them.

How do you help your team members identify or make progress in their path? It all starts with a conversation. Use this GROW Coaching Model, to help your team members unlock potential growth areas. This model gives you a simple framework for structuring these conversations with your team members.

G - Goal

Helping your team fulfil their potential starts with knowing where they want to grow towards. People may not know where they want to be in 5 years from now or even what their dream job looks like. You can simplify this scary notion by finding out their short term goal. Questions to help include:

  • What’s important to you at the moment?

  • What new skills do you want to learn or develop?

  • What do you like doing that you want to do more of?

  • What would make you feel that this time has been well spent?

  • What are you currently working toward?

  • What areas would you like to move into?

  • What would you like to know more about?

R - Reality

All goals start now, what is your direct report’s current reality? Do they have the self-awareness to know where they are now and what they need to work on? More than anything this step is an important time for your team member to self-reflect. You can guide them by asking questions such as:

  • What is working well at the moment?

  • What do you need?

  • What excuses have you used for not achieving your goals?

  • Have you already taken any steps towards your goal?

  • Does this goal conflict with any other goals or objectives?

  • What are you passionate about?

O - Obstacle / Options

Once you have determined your team member’s current reality, it’s time to find out the possibilities for moving towards their goal. Don’t assume that your team member is going to stay in your team and role forever. Help your team members brainstorm options to help them move forward. It’s important they identify the options themself to really own them.

Whilst it’s your team member’s responsibility to identify the skills they want to learn, with your connections and knowledge of the organization you can support them to find these opportunities. This is where you can really stand out to help your team by keeping an ear to the ground and suggesting their name when relevant opportunities come up.

Typical questions that you can use to explore options are as follows:

  • What obstacles stand in your way?

  • What could you possibly do?

  • What else?

  • What if this constraint were removed? Would that change anything?

  • What would you do if you answered to no one?

  • What is the most efficient use of your time at this moment?

W - Will

The final step is to commit to the specific actions to move forward towards their goal. This step activates their willpower, creates accountability and commitment to making the goal happen. Effective questions include:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how motivated are you to achieving your goal?

  • What will it take to get that motivation closer to a 10?

  • Whatever your first step is, can you think of anything that might stop you from doing it?

  • How do you want to be held accountable for this goal?

  • How will you celebrate when you’ve achieved your goal?

Decide on a date when you'll both review progress. This will provide some accountability, and allow them to change this approach if the original plan simply isn't working.


Help your team members achieve their full potential by investing in development conversations. Not only is it healthy for your team members to grow and develop but it will also increase team motivation and team retention. Good luck getting started!

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